Michael Bowden was drafted as a starter by the Red Sox back in 2005 and had success in that role for the first four years of his minor league career. And yet he’s made only two career starts at the major league level against 67 career relief appearances.
But that script could be flipped next summer.
According to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, the 26-year-old right-hander is stretching himself out this offseason in the Dominican Winter League with the hope of getting a chance to compete for a spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation next spring. If the experiment doesn’t wind up producing promising results, he will simply be shifted into a long relief role sometime before Opening Day.
Bowden, who registered a 2.95 ERA and 1.26 WHIP across 39 2/3 relief innings in 2012, has gone at least five frames in each of his last two starts for Águilas Cibaeñas — a team that also boasts former major leaguers Manny Ramirez and Miguel Tejada, and top Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.